It’s a great time to be in B2B sales; you have access to an ever-expanding pool of potential customers, there are more sophisticated tools for reaching prospects too, and you have the ability to engage clients in new and unique ways thanks to social media, search engines and other digital strategies. Without a doubt, these are boons to B2B organizations, but they also necessitate better strategic prospecting. When almost everyone is a potential lead, you have to get better at identifying who is a good match for your product and devising interesting ways to separate yourself from the pack in their crowded field of vision.

Prospecting is an important part of overall lead generation, and recent survey results indicate that 70% of B2B organizations listed improving lead generation as their first priority in 2015. By employing creative prospecting methods in order to more reliably reach the right customers, you can significantly improve the quality of your leads and have meaningful sales conversations with people who need your product.

Gather and analyze all the data you can get your hands on

Data isn’t just for the marketing department; sales reps can use thorough data analysis to paint a detailed portrait of their likely prospects. By intensely studying to whom, when, why, and how you sell your product, you can identify key patterns that will help jumpstart your strategic prospecting efforts.

If your organization promotes content on Facebook (and it definitely should), you can use the power of the social media giant’s vast bank of demographic data on its users to your distinct advantage. Also, don’t forget that you likely have access to a very valuable database right in your own company, thanks to your CRM platform.

Explore different techniques for social prospecting

Nearly three-quarters of reps who employ social selling techniques get better results than their peers. Unfortunately, many sales professionals are happy to look no further than LinkedIn for their prospecting efforts on social media. While LinkedIn can still be a great resource for sharing information, identifying connections, and joining value-added organizations, there are many other ways to creatively use the reach of social platforms to aid in your search for prospects.

Twitter is a great resource for sharing content, because as high-quality posts generate likes and retweets they are exposed to additional networks of like-minded followers. Sales reps can and should publish content that will help establish themselves as a thought leader.

Also, you can use Facebook Live Video and Snapchat Stories to create engaging video content for your audience. Give potential buyers an inside look at your company and product, and personalize the experience so that they feel like they are part of your team.

Use effectual reasoning in conversations with prospects

Many entrepreneurs use effectual reasoning techniques in the early stages of building their business, but this process can have a dramatic impact on how you talk to your sales prospects as well. Essentially, the technique involves using a logical series of questions and answers in order to solve a problem, without having any preconceived notion of potential solutions before the process begins.

Start your conversations with a cold prospect by asking them questions about their business in an attempt to understand more about what they go through. It’s absolutely essential that you avoid having an agenda, otherwise, you may sacrifice your authenticity and be seen as deceptive. If your questions and their answers lead you to a place where it makes logical sense for you to introduce your product as a solution to their problem, that’s great! You’ll know definitively that they are a good fit because they’ve told you why in detail. If the process doesn’t naturally lead you in that direction, thank them for their time and appreciate the experience as a learning opportunity.

Don’t look at prospecting as an isolated event

Prospecting isn’t a one-and-done event for a specific customer. It’s a series of different methods of outreach that form together into a larger campaign. It’s sound strategy to begin the process by coming up with a plan that accounts for different outcomes at each stage of the campaign. This way, you’ll always know what action to take in order to reach your overall goal. Don’t assume that every interaction has to go your way or else you’ve failed; focus on winning the war.